I love it when I read a study that confirms what I’ve been feeling or thinking. Psych Central’s Senior New Editor Rick Nauert discussed a few days ago a new study in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior that says women find it especially stressful to receive work-related communication at home, even when the phone calls or emails are within the working hours they defined.
Much more so than men.
Meaning, if the boss emails or calls a guy, even if it’s outside normal working hours, the typical male doesn’t think much of it, takes care of it, no problem. A woman? Even it happens within 9 to 5, she frets a little.
Think long and hard, even if you aren’t Catholic…
And here it is again … Guilt. Guilt. Guilt.
Boy do I know that feeling. Because even though my role right now is to be the breadwinner, the “man” of the family, and my husband Eric is doing the majority of the homework, shuffling to sports, parent-teacher meetings, and household stuff (well, I have to admit, I never really succeeded at cooking anything edible), that message somehow doesn’t get to my prefrontal cortex. The only message I hear is: You are their mother. They need you. You should be with them right now. You are selfish in trying to work.
This bothers me so much that I have trouble getting my work done at the house. When I hear the tantrums or the laughter or the ultimatums, I want to be in on the fun. I feel left out.
The tug of conscious or guilt or whatever the hell you want to call it has been so strong that both my therapist and psychiatrist suggested I work at a coffee shop outside the come so that I can’t hear the little buggers or the big bugger in the background.
The only thing I can compare it to, and this might totally disgust some of you, is when you are breastfeeding and another baby cries and all of a sudden your milk lets down. Your body doesn’t know the difference between a stranger’s cry and your son’s cry, and by golly, your body is not waiting around to see what it should do. No. Of course not. So there you stand in the middle of your meeting with a wet shirt, next to some little kid who I don’t know from Adam who is crying because he wants some animal crackers.
That’s a little what it’s like working from home.
Now my doctor has a theory that everyone acts way more out of control when you are upstairs versus if you go around the corner to a coffee shop. Even my sitter confirmed that. I could tell whenever I headed back upstairs she knew it would be an extra challenging day.
From Nauert’s article:
“Initially, we thought women were more distressed by frequent work contact because it interfered with their family responsibilities more so than men,” said lead author Paul Glavin, a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at U of T.
“However, this wasn’t the case. We found that women are able to juggle their work and family lives just as well as men, but they feel more guilty as a result of being contacted. This guilt seems to be at the heart of their distress.”
The findings show that many women feel guilty dealing with work issues at home even when the work-related contact doesn’t interfere with their family lives. Men, on the other hand, are less likely to experience guilt when responding to work-related issues at home.
Co-author Scott Schieman, Ph.D., said the findings suggest that men and women may still encounter different expectations over the boundaries separating work and family life–and these different expectations may have unique emotional consequences.
“Guilt seems to play a pivotal role in distinguishing women’s work-family experiences from men’s,” said Schieman, lead investigator of the larger study that funded this research.
“While women have increasingly taken on a central role as economic providers in today’s dual-earner households, strong cultural norms may still shape ideas about family responsibilities. These forces may lead some women to question or negatively evaluate their family role performance when they’re trying to navigate work issues at home.”